Finally. A book I can relate to.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is cute. It’s not a hard read, or a sophisticated read, or a life changing read, but it’s a nice read. The book is light and charming, and is far too relatable for a girl like me. It’s so refreshing to read a story that I understood because I have lived her life too. Not the boys and the aggressive roommate and annoying professor, but the fangirl. I am a fangirl, and I saw so much of myself in Cath that her story felt like home.
Let’s ignore the fact that Simon Snow is clearly synonymous with Harry Potter (even though Harry Potter is mentioned in the novel…. how does no one in the novel realize that they’re the same story?). Or maybe let’s not ignore it, because maybe that’s why Cath feels so familiar. Cath is not a fangirl caricature; she is smart, and quiet, and introverted with a heart so full of love for characters that feel like family to her. Her anxieties are the same ones I feel, as is her love. I feel so much love for Cath because finally- finally!- there’s a protagonist that I relate to wholeheartedly because I am Cath.
This novel is not perfect, however. I felt like Cath was a beacon of light, and everything else was just background noise. Is it so bad that I wanted to hear more about Cath and writing fanfiction and her thoughts about fandom than I did about Levi? In fact, I rather disliked Levi. He felt far too perfect and, dare I say it, fanfiction-y. He was a Mary Sue, perfect and smiling and the male version of a manic pixie dream girl. I liked Reagan, and Wren, and their father, and I really wish we got to see more of them, because I find their relationships with Cath far more interesting than Levi. Sorry Levi.
I did appreciate Cath’s character development, and how she grows and learns to take chances and to relax a little bit and to let people in (things I still haven’t learned, but I hope someday I can). I like how she never has to give up her fictional world, and she still is able to retreat into it as her safe space and home. What I didn’t like was the ending.
Why, WHY would Cath not devour that last Simon Snow book in a night? Sure, reading it with Levi is cute, but you cannot tell me that she would not have read that book by herself in one day first. Cath is a certified fangirl. Of course she’s going to read that book as fast as she humanly can. Then she can read it with Levi.
And then there was the last paragraph. This nearly ruined the entire book for me. Cath wins some prize for a short story she didn’t care about and wrote in 4 hours. Wow, what a convenient way to tie up a story in a little bow. It’s lazy storytelling, if you ask me, because it’s far too perfect. My friend pointed out that it’s a way to show the reader that Cath’s doing okay, but I call it lazy and uninspired. I like a little grittiness to my fiction, and this was just too perfect, and too cheesy. Spray-can cheese cheesy.
Other than that, I did quite enjoy Fangirl. It was cute and it hits really close to home. Fingers crossed that my life turns out as perfectly as Cath’s does.
3 and a half fanfiction chapters out of 5.